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Sunday, January 16, 2022

With Jon Lester’s retirement we ask: How do you define a Hall of Fame starting pitcher?

Put another way: Adjusting for the diminished frequency of starts resulting in wins, the equivalent of 300 wins in 1901-10 would be 185 starting pitcher victories, based on how pitchers were deployed.

Of course, “wins” and “losses” were already imperfect statistics for judging pitcher performance based on elements beyond the pitcher’s control, including offensive support and the defense behind him. Still, the shifting nature of the starting pitcher’s role, which will affect other cumulative stats such as WAR, innings, and strikeouts, will make it ever more difficult to use current Hall members as a basis for judging future Hall-worthiness.

“Are you going to judge all the modern-day pitchers based on the past or the present, the years they pitched? . . . You can’t compare eras anymore,” said Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer. “People are going to have to recalibrate what it takes to be a Hall of Fame pitcher.”

In 2010, at his first All-Star Game, Lester expressed his desire to win 300 games and to be a Hall of Famer. With experience, he laughed at the standards he’d once considered attainable.

“Three hundred wins is I think impossible now,” he said. “Now I feel like you’re only relied upon to get 12, 15 outs. So if that’s the case, heck, 100 wins is unfathomable for some guys. Three hundred is just a whole other stratosphere.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 16, 2022 at 03:50 PM | 48 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, jon lester

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   1. borntorunthenumbers@gmail.com Posted: January 16, 2022 at 03:57 PM (#6061242)
Recalibrating is somewhat easier by relying more on advanced statistics, such ERA+, WAR, WHIP, etc. Since starters these days only go 100 pitches, they should do at least as well as an average Hall of Famer who more likely had to go 7-9 innings per outing. Lester had a 118 ERA+ and a WAR of under 50. Even with 200 wins, he falls well short of HOF standards.
   2. SoSH U at work Posted: January 16, 2022 at 03:59 PM (#6061243)
Better than Lester?

   3. Booey Posted: January 16, 2022 at 04:14 PM (#6061244)
Advanced stats are going to need to be adjusted as well, since the traditional HOF cutoff of 60-ish WAR isn't going to work for much longer. With the continued decline in innings, we're going to get to the point where only inner circle types reach what used to be the borderline threshold.
   4. Howie Menckel Posted: January 16, 2022 at 04:32 PM (#6061247)
Since starters these days only go 100 pitches, they should do at least as well as an average Hall of Famer who more likely had to go 7-9 innings per outing

... if we pretend that the power levels of all lineups have remained unchanged through eternity - then yes.

the "number of HR threats faced" would be instructive (if it could be satisfactorily measured). that number would be as high or higher in 6 innings nowadaways than in 9 innings in some earlier eras.

if weightlifters used to do 20 reps at 400 pounds, and modern versions of same only do 15 reps at 500 pounds, I wouldn't be more impressed by the earlier guys, and say that the modern lifters got a "break" by doing fewer reps.
   5. SoSH U at work Posted: January 16, 2022 at 05:43 PM (#6061252)
... if we pretend that the power levels of all lineups have remained unchanged through eternity - then yes.

the "number of HR threats faced" would be instructive (if it could be satisfactorily measured). that number would be as high or higher in 6 innings nowadaways than in 9 innings in some earlier eras.


This kind of assumes the only threat a pitcher faces is through a longball. But is the challenge faced by a pitcher in a low-homer, 4.5 RA environment really different than a high-homer 4.5 RA environment? I don't see why it would be.
   6. Howie Menckel Posted: January 16, 2022 at 06:05 PM (#6061257)
well, the main point is that I disagreed with the original premise.

but yes I do also proffer that a high-HR environment is more stressful even if the RA environment is the same. if the worst realistic outcome is a double or triple, seems as if that would make it easier.

not an exact match to your specific point, but the other day I noted the 1974 third-time WS champ Athletics, with most pitchers facing a 2B-SS-CF trio that hit a combined 8 HR in 1775 PA (!).

that's three batters who no decent pitcher has to fear of a dinger.
they also only teamed up to hit 49 doubles and 15 triples.
so a grand total of 72 extra-base hits in 1775 PA.
   7. SoSH U at work Posted: January 16, 2022 at 06:18 PM (#6061260)
but yes I do also proffer that a high-HR environment is more stressful even if the RA environment is the same. if the worst realistic outcome is a double or triple, seems as if that would make it easier.


Why? If the other team is just as likely to score in 1974 as they are now, why would the fact more of the runs come via homers now make it more stressful?
   8. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: January 16, 2022 at 06:38 PM (#6061264)
But is the challenge faced by a pitcher in a low-homer, 4.5 RA environment really different than a high-homer 4.5 RA environment? I don't see why it would be.


I think it part it would be because that 4.5 RA environment is the result of many, many pitchers going at 100%, while the former is the result of almost all pitchers going at (for example) 70-80% most of the time.
   9. SoSH U at work Posted: January 16, 2022 at 06:49 PM (#6061269)
I think it part it would be because that 4.5 RA environment is the result of many, many pitchers going at 100%, while the former is the result of almost all pitchers going at (for example) 70-80% most of the time.


Do you think that if there were a team of Tony Gwynn types that averaged 4.3 runs per game and a team of Tony Armas types that averaged 4.3 runs per game, the latter team would be more stressful to pitch against?

   10. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: January 16, 2022 at 07:39 PM (#6061286)
Advanced stats are going to need to be adjusted as well, since the traditional HOF cutoff of 60-ish WAR isn't going to work for much longer.


And yet we hold NO relievers to this standard. NONE. THEY ARE ALL PITCHERS. How you can require a SP to manage to reach these near impossible numbers yet relievers worth less then half the overall value are still getting elected is just inane.

A really good SP with 1500-2000 innings with say 150 wins and an ERA+ of 135+ or more, maybe 2000K's and a bit of black ink...there's a guy to consider(say Chris Sale without the 150 wins at this stage). You can get more granular with the more detailed stats but those are the numbers you'll be looking at moving forward.

   11. John DiFool2 Posted: January 16, 2022 at 07:42 PM (#6061289)
You'll have a lot more people on base pitching against the Gwynn's, and baserunners bring their own stressors.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: January 16, 2022 at 08:23 PM (#6061302)
Not that I think it's very likely but let's not write off big career inning totals and 300 wins just yet. With the 5-man rotation, we weren't sure we were gonna see it again ... and then Maddux, Clemens, Unit, Glavine, Moyer all just kept pitching and pitching and pitching. They still didn't make it as far as say Carlton or Perry or even mostly Jenkins but they made it over 4,000 IP. Now if top SPs are limited to 180 innings sure, it's gonna take them over 20 full seasons to reach 4000 innings ... but if the seasonal load is lighter then the careers may last longer. And even if they still don't, 3600 innings is still a lot.

But yes, the key question is whether there comes a point where "starting" pitchers are worth so little as a group that they simply aren't important enough to put in at all. (#10's valid point aside.) If the trend keeps up, "starters" will be pitching less than half the innings soon and even a top starter would probably throw no more than about 12% (Fergie used to throw about 20%). Pitching is becoming a collective undertaking rather than an individual one. Do you keep selecting the 5 best SPs of each generation just becuse they were the 5 good pitchers who made it over 100 innings almost every year?

As to Lester, by trad stats, he and Halladay look pretty similar. You need to look at ERA+ and WAR columns to really see the (very big) difference and, in WAR, the difference is still about half due to era differences that often aren't considered heavily by the BBWAA. Not that even a traditionalist would equate them (the CYA difference alone) but it's also not like the first-ballot Halladay represents a minimum standard.
   13. SoSH U at work Posted: January 16, 2022 at 08:30 PM (#6061304)
But yes, the key question is whether there comes a point where "starting" pitchers are worth so little as a group that they simply aren't important enough to put in at all.

At which point, the obvious result is electing fewer people to the Hall of Fame.
   14. Walt Davis Posted: January 16, 2022 at 10:00 PM (#6061309)
Not an "obvious result" at all. When we saw no good starting pitchers coming out of the late 70s-80s, we saw first the election of relievers then the near-election (and eventual induction) of Jack Morris. On the one hand, voters may have failed to adapt their standards to the 5-man rotation (maybe some of Morris, Steib, Martinez, Saberhagen, Cone deserved induction); on the other hand, they elected relievers.

So that is the discussion -- should the best pitchers be elected even if they aren't contributing very much or should fewer/no pitchers be elected? Near as I can tell, most people seem to go for "elect the best pitchers anyway." Presumably that's what the HoF wants too.
   15. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: January 16, 2022 at 10:35 PM (#6061311)
the traditional HOF cutoff of 60-ish WAR isn't going to work for much longer

Well, it's hardly "traditional", but I see your point. My personal in/out line is about 62 WAR, but I give catchers up to a 10 WAR "bonus" depending how much of their career they spent behind the dish. I may have to start doing something similar with pitchers, too.
   16. Booey Posted: January 16, 2022 at 11:14 PM (#6061315)
When we saw no good starting pitchers coming out of the late 70s-80s, we saw first the election of relievers then the near-election (and eventual induction) of Jack Morris. On the one hand, voters may have failed to adapt their standards to the 5-man rotation (maybe some of Morris, Steib, Martinez, Saberhagen, Cone deserved induction); on the other hand, they elected relievers.


The difference between now and the 80's though is that the dearth of HOF caliber starters back then was obviously just a temporary blip, and by the time the 80's pitchers started hitting the ballots in the late 90's and early 2000's, the best 90's pitchers (Clemens, Maddux, Glavine, Johnson, Pedro, etc) were already well on their way towards the Hall of Fame. It didn't seem like THAT big of a deal that the writers didn't elect any starters between 2000-2010 because it was clear during that time that plenty of worthy reinforcements were in the queque. It was a short term problem. That's not at all the case today once the Kershaw, Scherzer, Verlander, Greinke group retires. Cole is the only pitcher who debuted in the 2010's that looks like he might have a good shot at 200 wins. The other top pitchers of the decade - guys like Sale and deGrom - look likely to top out at 150-175 or so (if they're lucky). Standards are gonna have to change.

And the writers embrace of relievers during the mid-late 2000's wasn't just because there weren't any dominant starters, but because there weren't many clear HOFers on the ballot period. Take away the poor closer selections and 2006 and 2008 are both shutouts.
   17. SoSH U at work Posted: January 16, 2022 at 11:32 PM (#6061317)
Not an "obvious result" at all. When we saw no good starting pitchers coming out of the late 70s-80s, we saw first the election of relievers then the near-election (and eventual induction) of Jack Morris. On the one hand, voters may have failed to adapt their standards to the 5-man rotation (maybe some of Morris, Steib, Martinez, Saberhagen, Cone deserved induction); on the other hand, they elected relievers.


Except you weren't talking about what would happen, but rather what should. "The key question is whether there comes a point where "starting" pitchers are worth so little as a group that they simply aren't important enough to put in at all." And since you surely don't believe the Hall should be electing more relievers, then this attitude would inevitably result in fewer Hall of Famers altogether. That value that starting pitchers were accruing is being spread out over to even lesser pitchers.

Couple that with the likelihood that catching careers will continue to shorten (due to concussion awareness), and that's another group that would see less representation in the Hall under this line of thinking.
   18. Bret Sabermatrician Posted: January 17, 2022 at 10:05 AM (#6061332)
200 wins seems a fair marker if we HAVE to use wins as a demarcation line.

That give us Verlander, Grienke, Scherzer and Kershaw. Wainwright is currently borderline, which feels about right. No one else really feels like a hall of famer yet. As great as DeGrom is, you actually have to be durable to have a HOF worthy career.

Then that leaves us with these maybes based on age:
Bumgarner - 127 at 31
Cole - 117 at 30
Sale - 114 at 32
Strasburg - 113 at 32

I think we'd agree that if any of those 4 get to 200 wins, the back half of their career will need to be HOF standard to get there.

The real re-calibration will be for guys currently in their 20s. Jose Berrios is the only guy averaging 10 wins a year that's under 30.
   19. Jack Sommers Posted: January 17, 2022 at 11:56 AM (#6061346)
A funny thing has happened over the last 4 seasons. With the dramatic increase in the IP given to relievers to protect starters from facing hitters the third time through the order, the percentage of RA-9 WAR going to starting pitchers has increased dramatically from the levels just a few years before. That is because the SP. RA-9 AND ERA- have dropped a great deal, and of course RP have gone up. And the reason is obvious. A lot of those middle innings are now going to far inferior middle relievers, so it's dragging down the cumulative RA-9 WAR of relievers while driving their RA-9 and ERA- up.

The change in the ratio between SP/RP in wOBA also mirrors that of ERA-

Now obviously the increase in SP RA-9 WAR is not creating a big enough trend to let us start seeing double digit WAR seasons by individual pitchers anytime soon . I presume a lot of that increase in RA-9 WAR is going to the guys who were the worst at pitching to lineups the 3rd time around, so they weren't elite to begin with.

Maybe there aren't 10 WAR starters anymore, but that increased SP is being spread around.

I wonder if teams are doing this really inefficiently. If they are going to limit SP seeing lineups 3rd time through, perhaps they should be using their 3 best relievers and have them take turns facing that 3rd time through the lineup. Maybe have those three guys target to each get 4-5 outs, 6 if possible, every 3 days. Unless they are up by 3 runs or more, then send in the lesser pitchers for a few batters. Just a thought. I'm curious what other people see in this data and what they think the appropriate response should be.

Check out the Google Drive Spreadsheet SP vs RP since 1998. I tried to paste it below too, but as you can see I can't figure out how to get the columns to line up using either code or pre.

All data pulled from frangraphs.com

Season SP IPRP IP SP WAR RP WARSP ERARP ERARatio  SP wOBA RP wOBA Ratio
1998 67.8
32.276.923.1102 94 1.09 na na na
1999 66.3
33.776.123.9103 95 1.08 na na na
2000 66.5
33.578.721.3102 96 1.06 na na na
2001 66.5
33.573.526.5103 93 1.11 na na na
2002 66.5
33.575.124.9103 94 1.10 .330 .318 1.04
2003 66.0
34.075.824.2103 94 1.10 .332 .320 1.04
2004 65.5
34.573.826.2103 93 1.11 .335 .322 1.04
2005 67.4
32.679.720.3102 96 1.06 .329 .320 1.03
2006 65.4
34.672.627.4104 93 1.12 .336 .322 1.04
2007 64.8
35.273.027.0104 94 1.11 .337 .319 1.06
2008 65.0
35.075.624.4103 95 1.08 .333 .320 1.04
2009 65.3
34.775.624.4103 94 1.10 .333 .320 1.04
2010 67.1
32.978.421.6102 96 1.06 .324 .315 1.03
2011 67.3
32.774.225.8103 94 1.10 .321 .306 1.05
2012 66.0
34.070.229.8105 91 1.15 .321 .303 1.06
2013 65.7
34.372.127.9104 93 1.12 .319 .303 1.05
2014 66.5
33.576.923.1102 96 1.06 .314 .302 1.04
2015 65.0
35.075.124.9103 94 1.10 .318 .305 1.04
2016 63.3
36.771.428.6104 94 1.11 .323 .309 1.05
2017 61.9
38.170.729.3103 95 1.08 .327 .311 1.05
2018 59.9
40.177.822.2101 99 1.02 .316 .312 1.01
2019 57.9
42.176.923.1101 99 1.02 .322 .318 1.01
2020 55.5
44.578.521.5100 100 1.00 .320 .320 1.00
2021 57.3
42.779.320.7102 98 1.04 .317 .310 1.02 
   20. Ron J Posted: January 17, 2022 at 01:18 PM (#6061361)
Season SP_IPRP_IPSP_WARRP_WARSP_ERARP_ERARatio  SP_wOBA RP_wOBA Ratio
1998    67.8
%  32.2%   76.9%   23.1%   102     94     1.09     na      na     na
1999    66.3
%  33.7%   76.1%   23.9%   103     95     1.08     na      na     na
2000    66.5
%  33.5%   78.7%   21.3%   102     96     1.06     na      na     na
2001    66.5
%  33.5%   73.5%   26.5%   103     93     1.11     na      na     na
2002    66.5
%  33.5%   75.1%   24.9%   103     94     1.10   .330    .318   1.04
2003    66.0
%  34.0%   75.8%   24.2%   103     94     1.10   .332    .320   1.04
2004    65.5
%  34.5%   73.8%   26.2%   103     93     1.11   .335    .322   1.04
2005    67.4
%  32.6%   79.7%   20.3%   102     96     1.06   .329    .320   1.03
2006    65.4
%  34.6%   72.6%   27.4%   104     93     1.12   .336    .322   1.04
2007    64.8
%  35.2%   73.0%   27.0%   104     94     1.11   .337    .319   1.06
2008    65.0
%  35.0%   75.6%   24.4%   103     95     1.08   .333    .320   1.04
2009    65.3
%  34.7%   75.6%   24.4%   103     94     1.10   .333    .320   1.04
2010    67.1
%  32.9%   78.4%   21.6%   102     96     1.06   .324    .315   1.03
2011    67.3
%  32.7%   74.2%   25.8%   103     94     1.10   .321    .306   1.05
2012    66.0
%  34.0%   70.2%   29.8%   105     91     1.15   .321    .303   1.06
2013    65.7
%  34.3%   72.1%   27.9%   104     93     1.12   .319    .303   1.05
2014    66.5
%  33.5%   76.9%   23.1%   102     96     1.06   .314    .302   1.04
2015    65.0
%  35.0%   75.1%   24.9%   103     94     1.10   .318    .305   1.04
2016    63.3
%  36.7%   71.4%   28.6%   104     94     1.11   .323    .309   1.05
2017    61.9
%  38.1%   70.7%   29.3%   103     95     1.08   .327    .311   1.05
2018    59.9
%  40.1%   77.8%   22.2%   101     99     1.02   .316    .312   1.01
2019    57.9
%  42.1%   76.9%   23.1%   101     99     1.02   .322    .318   1.01
2020    55.5
%  44.5%   78.5%   21.5%   100    100     1.00   .320    .320   1.00
2021    57.3
%  42.7%   79.3%   20.7%   102     98     1.04   .317    .310   1.02 


EDIT: Thanks for posting this.
   21. Jack Sommers Posted: January 17, 2022 at 01:32 PM (#6061363)
Thanks Ron !
   22. Jay Seaver Posted: January 17, 2022 at 01:38 PM (#6061368)
Why? If the other team is just as likely to score in 1974 as they are now, why would the fact more of the runs come via homers now make it more stressful?


Intuitively, I'd say distribution matters. If a pitcher has gotten through five innings and the sixth offers a light-hitting 7/8/9 combo that's going to need some help from the top of the order versus guys who can drive themselves in, the manager may be more inclined to keep the same pitcher in versus going for a fresh arm. Then if that's a relatively easy inning, the pitcher doesn't seem quite so gassed in the seventh. That's not always going to get you two extra innings, but if the more power-heavy line-up is also fouling off/taking more pitches, it's not just a higher pitch count, but a constant effort with less chance to bounce back during the game.
   23. SoSH U at work Posted: January 17, 2022 at 02:08 PM (#6061371)
Intuitively, I'd say distribution matters. If a pitcher has gotten through five innings and the sixth offers a light-hitting 7/8/9 combo that's going to need some help from the top of the order versus guys who can drive themselves in, the manager may be more inclined to keep the same pitcher in versus going for a fresh arm. Then if that's a relatively easy inning, the pitcher doesn't seem quite so gassed in the seventh. That's not always going to get you two extra innings, but if the more power-heavy line-up is also fouling off/taking more pitches, it's not just a higher pitch count, but a constant effort with less chance to bounce back during the game.


That's adding details.

The argument Howie made, and many others have made before, is that pitching in a high HR-environment is inherently more stressful. I don't see why that is the case. Today's environment may be more difficult, but that's only because the run environment is higher or because you have to throw at max velocity more often*. But the threat of the long ball doesn't, by itself, make pitching more stressful, which I think the Tony Gwynn vs. Tony Armas comparison should illustrate. Sure, against the TA lineup, you'd be facing a greater threat of a dinger with every batter. On the other hand, facing a team of TG types, you'd be throwing far more pitches with runners on base, which are more stressful than the empty-bases situation.

* The latter suggests pitching advancements have not kept up with hitting ones.
   24. Ron J Posted: January 17, 2022 at 02:57 PM (#6061374)
#23 The argument is that if a guy is a HR threat you have less leeway in terms of coasting. I know that deadball pitchers were explicit that they went with their A stuff only at need.

Thing is that nobody coasted against Ty Cobb even if he wasn't much of a home run threat which gets back to your point. I don't know where that leaves us.
   25. SoSH U at work Posted: January 17, 2022 at 03:09 PM (#6061375)
#23 The argument is that if a guy is a HR threat you have less leeway in terms of coasting. I know that deadball pitchers were explicit that they went with their A stuff only at need.


I know. I've heard it. And certainly lesser hitters are going to be less stressful than better ones. But I have yet to hear a convincing argument why the ability to go deep, by itself, leads to a more stressful pitching experience. It simply doesn't add up.


   26. Jobu is silent on the changeup Posted: January 17, 2022 at 03:32 PM (#6061379)
I don't see why that is the case.
Have you ever pitched?
   27. SoSH U at work Posted: January 17, 2022 at 03:51 PM (#6061383)
Have you ever pitched?


So you think if a pitcher had to face a lineup filled with Tony Armas type and a lineup of Tony Gwynn types, both of which produced runs at 4.3 runs per game in a neutral setting, the former would be more stressful to pitch against?
   28. Jay Seaver Posted: January 17, 2022 at 04:09 PM (#6061386)
That's adding details.


Well, yeah, but probably reasonably extrapolated ones based on what we know about how major league managers behave.

But the threat of the long ball doesn't, by itself, make pitching more stressful, which I think the Tony Gwynn vs. Tony Armas comparison should illustrate.


I mean, that's adding details in its own way, except they're not exactly realistic details. The lineup of nine identical hitters is never going to happen, and it's basically applying a linear model (that 4.3 as constant coefficient) when the reality is probably multiple non-linear factors.
   29. SoSH U at work Posted: January 17, 2022 at 04:41 PM (#6061392)
Well, yeah, but probably reasonably extrapolated ones based on what we know about how major league managers behave.

Not as far as this argument is concerned, they're not.

I mean, that's adding details in its own way, except they're not exactly realistic details. The lineup of nine identical hitters is never going to happen, and it's basically applying a linear model (that 4.3 as constant coefficient) when the reality is probably multiple non-linear factors.


It's not really. It's stripping them away to get to the heart of the argument: Is a home run threat, in and of itself, going to produce more stress on the pitcher than one who isn't. This ignores who takes more pitches or whether the bottom of the order is coming up. But to consider it fully, we have to look at it terms of a full lineup, because a lineup of a Tony Armas type is going to have a lot more bases-empty situations than an equally successful lineup of Tony Gwynn types.

I'm not saying it's equally easy to pitch now as it was in 1974, even if we had identical run environments. It's certainly possible, even likely, that hitting has progressed more rapidly than pitching since 1974. All I'm saying is that the threat of the homer, by itself, is not going to be the cause of it.
   30. John DiFool2 Posted: January 17, 2022 at 05:05 PM (#6061394)
That value that starting pitchers were accruing is being spread out over to even lesser pitchers.


As #19 upthread clearly shows, the gap in quality between starters and relievers has never been closer. Yeah, maybe this is a short-term effect (Cure ref.), but if it a product of how teams have been constructing their pitching staffs, then they would be 100% rational in continuing with the current wham-bam-thank-you-maam 2 trips through the order and gone thing for their starters.

I mean (illustrative examples on the way), in 2021 the Phillies could use say Sam Coonrod (4.04 ERA, 3.2/10.2 BB/K per 9) as the first guy out the bullpen door. In 1979 they would have to regularly use Doug (the Fidyrich) Bird (5.16 {4.03 FIP} 2.4/4.9) in such a role. Yeah, the 2021 guy has twice the K rate, but he has twice the K rate (regardless of the long-term trends as to why), giving the manager a margin of safety that the soft tossers of yore couldn't regularly give him.
   31. SoSH U at work Posted: January 17, 2022 at 05:19 PM (#6061397)
As #19 upthread clearly shows, the gap in quality between starters and relievers has never been closer. Yeah, maybe this is a short-term effect (Cure ref.), but if it a product of how teams have been constructing their pitching staffs, then they would be 100% rational in continuing with the current wham-bam-thank-you-maam 2 trips through the order and gone thing for their starters.


Nobody was disputing whether it was a good decision strategically. The question is about what effect this usage will have on future Hall of Fame voting.

But also, is that true? The object isn't to get equal performance from both types of pitchers, but to find the distribution that results in the fewest number of runs. You could reduce the gap entirely if your bullpen pitches like crap, but that isn't going to help you win games.
   32. Adam Starblind Posted: January 17, 2022 at 06:59 PM (#6061405)
So you think if a pitcher had to face a lineup filled with Tony Armas type and a lineup of Tony Gwynn types, both of which produced runs at 4.3 runs per game in a neutral setting, the former would be more stressful to pitch against?


Coloring this argument is the fact that a lineup of Tony Gwynns would produce WAY more runs than a lineup of Tony Armases.

Let’s fill the lineup with Willy Stargell or Pete Alonso. Hell of a lot more stressful than Tony Armas.
   33. SoSH U at work Posted: January 17, 2022 at 07:13 PM (#6061407)

Coloring this argument is the fact that a lineup of Tony Gwynns would produce WAY more runs than a lineup of Tony Armases.

Let’s fill the lineup with Willy Stargell or Pete Alonso. Hell of a lot more stressful than Tony Armas.


That would be a good rebuttal if I said a lineup of Tony Gwynns, rather than a lineup of Tony Gwynn types (meaning low power, high average) and Tony Armas types (high power, low average) in some configuration that would be expected to produce the same amount of runs. I don't think facing either lineup would be inherently more stressful.

Do you think otherwise?
   34. Jaack Posted: January 17, 2022 at 07:31 PM (#6061408)
High power/low average is going to be more stressful as a pitcher for a couple of reasons.

-The pitcher is more responsible for the outs versus a high power/low average hitter. He's basically got to pitch for strikeouts, because the risk of hard contact is far greater.
-The pitcher also has less room for error. Unless the high contact/low power guy is like Wade Boggs, he's going swing at pitches outside the zone. High power guy will sit on a lot more of those and take the pitches. Likewise, a bad pitch in the zone versus a high contact guy is just a harder hit single. Versus high power guy it's gone.

And even if it's less stressful, the pitcher does have more control over the game. A modern pitcher likely personally gets more outs in six innings than a guy in 1930 got in nine.
   35. Adam Starblind Posted: January 17, 2022 at 07:47 PM (#6061409)
. That would be a good rebuttal if I said a lineup of Tony Gwynns, rather than a lineup of Tony Gwynn types (meaning low power, high average) and Tony Armas types (high power, low average) in some configuration that would be expected to produce the same amount of runs.


Read carefully. What I’m saying is by using those two particular players, rather than two players of the same caliber, you make your argument sound better than it is.
   36. SoSH U at work Posted: January 17, 2022 at 08:20 PM (#6061413)
Read carefully. What I’m saying is by using those two particular players, rather than two players of the same caliber, you make your argument sound better than it is.


I don't see why it should. From the beginning I noted the hypotheticals were lineups that would be expected to produce the same number of runs.

But sure.

Do you think facing a team filled with Pete Alonzos would induce more stress than facing a team filled with Tony Gwynns? If so, why?
   37. Adam Starblind Posted: January 17, 2022 at 10:12 PM (#6061428)
Maybe. My point was just that your formulation was a little dirty.
   38. Jack Sommers Posted: January 18, 2022 at 01:39 AM (#6061437)
Nobody was disputing whether it was a good decision strategically. The question is about what effect this usage will have on future Hall of Fame voting.


One possibility is that the best starters, even with reduced workloads, might still be able to cross the 60 WAR threshold often enough due to better run prevention, albeit in fewer innings. . I was seeing a hint of that possibly in the shifting RA-9 WAR proportions of the last few years.
   39. Jack Sommers Posted: January 18, 2022 at 01:43 AM (#6061438)
I've always subscribed to the theory that pitching to more hitters that can take you deep is more stressful as the pitcher is more likely to go max effort, not wanting to risk the automatic runs that result from homers, as opposed to the 2 or 3 hits that are often required to get a run home. However according to a close friend in broadcasting, Darling and Cone both claim it's easier to pitch today as there are so few different approaches to hitting, which I hadn't thought of really. Not sure I buy that, just passing along what I was told.
   40. Jobu is silent on the changeup Posted: January 18, 2022 at 06:44 AM (#6061439)
So you think if a pitcher had to face a lineup filled with Tony Armas type and a lineup of Tony Gwynn types, both of which produced runs at 4.3 runs per game in a neutral setting, the former would be more stressful to pitch against?
Absolutely. When pitching to the Gwynn-types, the pitcher's job is basically to throw strikes. Each pitch has a limited variation of outcomes, and the best and worst cases involve balls in play. You will give up runs when the BABIP gods deem it. Against the Armas-types, the variation is more extreme and more within the pitcher's control. He knows he can't make a mistake over the plate, but 3 good pitches send him back to the bench. Trying to make perfect pitches is more stressful than trying not to walk guys.
   41. SoSH U at work Posted: January 18, 2022 at 07:53 AM (#6061440)
Absolutely. When pitching to the Gwynn-types, the pitcher's job is basically to throw strikes. Each pitch has a limited variation of outcomes, and the best and worst cases involve balls in play. You will give up runs when the BABIP gods deem it. Against the Armas-types, the variation is more extreme and more within the pitcher's control. He knows he can't make a mistake over the plate, but 3 good pitches send him back to the bench. Trying to make perfect pitches is more stressful than trying not to walk guys.


And the stress level doesn't change with men on base?

   42. Howie Menckel Posted: January 18, 2022 at 08:27 AM (#6061444)
And the stress level doesn't change with men on base?

is this as in "check their blood pressure?"

because what a lot of us have been talking about, I think, is whether a pitch needs to be thrown at maximum velocity due to the risk of allowing a HR to particular batters. that 'stress level' would/could impact how many pitches/innings a pitcher could last.
   43. SoSH U at work Posted: January 18, 2022 at 08:42 AM (#6061446)
is this as in "check their blood pressure?"


I don't know what that means.

My feeling is, if you're pitching with a lot of men on base, which is necessary for this particular team to score as many runs as the high-power team, you're naturally going to be looking at more men on base. And I think pitching under those conditions is more stressful than pitching with the bases empty, which offsets the facing more longball threats.

That's why I believe the run environment is what creates stress on pitching.

As for max velocity, it's certainly possible that pitching has not kept up with hitting, making it more challenging today than years earlier. But I don't think it's the homer threat, by itself, that does that.
   44. Adam Starblind Posted: January 18, 2022 at 09:24 AM (#6061450)
Yes, you mentioned.
   45. SoSH U at work Posted: January 18, 2022 at 09:45 AM (#6061452)
Don't you have some one-way feud with Walt to resume?
   46. Adam Starblind Posted: January 18, 2022 at 09:51 AM (#6061455)
Don't you have some one-way feud with Walt to resume?


You too are a star contributor.
   47. Jobu is silent on the changeup Posted: January 19, 2022 at 06:42 AM (#6061547)
And the stress level doesn't change with men on base?
Not really, because you're still not trying to pick a corner or reach back for an extra mph or three. You're not pushing for a K or nibbling because a 3-run bomb is peeking at you. The results are still largely in the hands of the BABIP gods - if anything, you're just putting your target marginally lower, hoping for a DP.

   48. DL from MN Posted: January 19, 2022 at 08:31 AM (#6061555)
And the stress level doesn't change with men on base?


It definitely does for pitchers who prefer the windup to the stretch position

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